Each year, millions of people seek to increase their skills and reach their career goals — whether that be through enrolling in traditional education like university or community college, or by attending career training such as dental assistant programs. And if you’re thinking about joining the growing number of people enrolling in the latter, you’ll want to ensure you’re choosing a school that’s the right fit for you and your unique situation. So how do you know what’s the best dental assistant program for you? We’ve put together a guide to help you know what to look for!
Compare program costs
The cost of dental assistant certificate or diploma programs ranges on average from $850–$7,560. Though it may be in your best interest to pay more money for the right program, you might also be better served to opt for a less expensive one; ultimately, you’ll want to examine how much you’re willing to invest in your training and what you think you’ll get from each individual program.
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to look into financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, payment plans, or loans to help ease the burden of any cost. Make sure to check school websites to see what they offer!
Consider the location
Where you are (and where you’d like to go) could also have a big impact on your decision. Should you travel to the other side of the country, or would you rather attend a program 30 minutes from your home? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states with the highest dental assistant employment levels are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois, respectively — while the states with the highest annual mean wage for dental assistants are Minnesota, Massachusetts, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Are the cost, program value, and proximity to potential employers worth a move?
Before choosing a campus, you might be well-served to take into account where you want to end up and any factors which might make you want to stay in your current location.
Get to know the instructors
Learning from the right teacher can have a huge impact on someone’s success, so we suggest learning all you can about who will be leading your prospective courses. See if they’ve done any well-known work or have written anything online, and check out what past students have said about them.
By researching who’ll be running the programs, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not they have the right level of experience and if their teaching style will fit your learning style, both of which can impact which institutions have the best dental assistant program for you.
Read course reviews
Another helpful method of finding out if a program and its instructors are right for you is reading online reviews. Whether by searching online lists of top dental assistant schools, or reading through reviews by graduates on sites like Yelp or Quora, you can check to see if a school is likely to deliver on what it’s promising.
Both official rankings, like those on GradReports.com, or user-generated assessments like Google reviews will give you a good picture of the value of each program.
Visit the school, if possible
Of course, if you’re able, it might also be a good idea to visit the campus location in person before committing. Both school administrators and former students emphasize the importance of seeing the classrooms and meeting the staff face-to-face before you sign on. Attend events and open houses being held by the school, or just visit on your own to take a look at where you’ll be learning.
In actually seeing where the program will take place, you can gain personal insight you might otherwise miss from going through their website and reading reviews for secondhand information.